Here's the comment, which was sent to me in an email afterwards, so I respect that the writer really wanted us to read it:
As a 33-year-old mother of three young children, I just wanted to chime in and say that my experience of being at home with the children is that it is incredibly isolating and lonely. I love, love, love my daughters and wouldn't change a thing, but I have very few people to socialize with. The playgrounds are empty M-F 9-5. My neighbors who are retired and home during the day have no interest in interacting regularly. I work from home, so my only work interactions are e-mail communications. I was the first of my group of friends to have kids, and, sadly, most of my single friends abandoned me. There were quite a few women that I last saw at my first daughter's baby shower. The saddest part for me is that my non-Catholic friends have been more likely to put in the effort of maintaining a friendship after I became a mother than my Catholic friends were. BTW, I never gripe about any of this (or anything else) on Facebook; I reserve my "things that might annoy my friends posts" for the occasional, mild pro-life post. So, while there are certainly some mothers venting on Facebook and not returning the calls of their single friends, there are some of us who privately deal with the daily challenges of mothering young children and who jump at the limited opportunities for two-way friendships.
I think this comment deserves more than "Cry me a river, married mother of three" because--except for the internet stuff--it could have been written by my own mother in 1978. She found being at home with us "incredibly isolating and lonely." Her high school and college friends were not Roman Catholics and did not take the traditional marriage-babies-homemaking route. They lost touch, mostly, and there were no other young women around to replace them. My mother joined the Catholic Women's League and had bridge parties, and the other members were a generation older than she was.
Meanwhile, homemakers were right out of fashion. Feminists in public office even called them parasites, and the chattering classes made nasty remarks about marriage being legalized prostitution. And my convert mother was not embraced by the comfy old Catholic world of inevitable pregnancies and constant baby clothes swapping because it no longer existed and hadn't yet been born anew.
So I know perfectly well that married women can feel very lonely and miss other women, especially other women their age, many of whom are doing things that sound a lot more Important (from a worldly perspective) and Fun. It would not have occurred to my mother, I think, that it might have hurt my father's colleagues' childless wives on a very deep level to see her young face, and her pretty house full of children, and her apparent rejection of the rat race/hamster treadmill they had embarked on. The working world, supposedly paved with gold, was still not all that nice for women in the 1970s.
Of course, the colleagues' wives usually did have children, but they were busy. And one thing I have learned from moving to Edinburgh in middle life is that when you are an adult woman it can be hard to make friends with other adult women. Single or married, women over 30 are just too busy. Any time they can spare for socializing with other women goes either to workmates or to their best mates, who are never going to be some foreign lady who washed up on Portobello beach six years ago.
I have one (ONE) born-Scottish female friend, and now she lives in England. All my other female friends came from Scotland from somewhere else. The married ones are married to Scots. They are either at least a decade younger than me or at least a decade older than me. And it was a long time before I made Catholic female friends, or any female friend whose shoulder I could literally cry on. (In desperation I called up a childless friend my mother's age and wept to her, which was certainly the right thing to do.) And my attitude to that was, in a nutshell, Duh. That's what marriage means. That's why you have a big party after the ceremony: you're not just celebrating with your family and Single life friends, you're saying "Good-bye."
I learned that from the Anne books. When she married Gilbert, Anne had to LEAVE Avonlea. Anne had to make new friends. Anne very rarely saw her old college friends. Anne hung out with a much older woman, Miss Cornelia Bryant, and had to wait a long time to make friends with a woman her own age (Leslie). She spent most of her time at home with her children, her husband and her housekeeper. Of course, she was involved in church activities and the Ladies' Aid. I am not sure what the Ladies' Aid was, but they most definitely did not go out for cocktails and girl-chat.
It is unusual to hang out with a pack of women your own age once you leave university and begin work and/or raising a family. Married or Single, this really isn't going on that much. (My best Catholic friends at home get together once a year: when I turn up.) If I do go out for a drink, it is almost always with Hipster Isabella, who is 24. If I run off across the fields to visit a neighbour, it is almost always to my MP's wife, who is over 60. Most of the women whooping it up in Edinburgh pubs on weeknights are either in university or well over 40 and possibly alcoholics.
The solution to the loneliness of adult women is partly for people like me (and Lucy Maud Montgomery) to tell younger women to expect it. Even if you don't take up responsibilities, most of the women your age will, and that means all-we-girls-born-in-Year-X party-time is over.
Adult women get lonely. End of. And Single women don't usually have the time or the patience to hang out with mothers of young children. Chatting with a woman who keeps interrupting you to talk to her children, over and over again, gets boring unless you love the woman and would listen to her read the telephone book if that was the only way you could see her. It's a miracle I can think of two women-with-children friends I love that much.*
As for how to alleviate the loneliness, I recommend joining groups of women who share your basic way of life, and not expecting them to be your age or born-and-bred locals or whatever. My mother joined the Catholic Women's League. I got involved in Polish cultural stuff. Most of my mother's friends are still older than she is. Most of my friends here are fellow foreigners.
And of course there is the internet.
*Update: It would be a kindness if married women with babies and small children invited Single childless female friends to supper, however. Don't do anything special or extra. Don't worry about the house. The Single friends, if they accept, will be flattered to have been asked and they will learn a lot about the reality of your life over supper. Not to put to fine a point on it, they will go home feeling awed or at least a little sorry for you and rather more cheerful about their Single state.
Update 2: It just occurred to me that if you love hanging out in big groups of women, I know of a really fantastic all-female community with 32 members so far.